Too High of a Mountain to Climb

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For the second time this season No. 22 West Virginia blanketed Cincinnati's half-court offense.  


The Mountaineers ended UC's season with a 66-41 win Friday in the first round of the Big East Championship in front of 8,177 at XL Center. 


WVU contested nearly every shot as the Bearcats went 32.6 percent from the field. The Mountaineers cashed in 22 UC miscues for 27 points. Guard Liz Repella had four of the team's 10 steals and contributed 15 points and seven rebounds.


"What can I say?" coach Jamelle Elliott said. "West Virginia is a very, very, very, good defensive team. When we were coming in to the game, we knew we had to find ways to score, not even just to score, but just to get shots off against their stifling man-to-man defense and we didn't do a good job of that."


WVU center Asya Bussie led all scorers with 16 on 5-7 shooting.  


Guard Bjonee Reaves paced UC with a team-best 11 points in 39 minutes of play.


UC faced a double-digit deficient at the 12:36 mark 20-10, before five-straight from Reaves triggered a 7-0 run. 


WVU answered with a seven-consecutive points for another double-figure lead, one that it would not relinquish the rest of the night.


For a large part of the opening half UC kept the score close due to a 33-30 edge on the glass for the game.  


"We got the lead and we were defending pretty well," WVU coach Mike Carey said. "We just weren't rebounding very well. When we started rebounding better, we were able to stretch the lead."


The Mountaineers took a 37-23 advantage into the break after a 17-6 run.


"Towards the end of the first half, we allowed them to go on a little run and then obviously we weren't able to recover,' Elliott said.


With the loss UC dropped to 0-18 when trailing at the half. 


The first basket of the closing period didn't come for either team for nearly five minutes.


With 13:22 remaining freshman Tiffany Turner UC scored UC's first field goal.


A 3-pointer from senior Shelly Bellman with 9:58 to play gave them their second field goal of the second stanza to spark a 14-4 spurt. 


Guards Bellman and Chanel Chisholm knocked down back-to-back long balls to trim the WVU lead to 14 with 6:28 left, after it had reached 24.


The Bearcats got no closer the rest of the way.


"We get tired in the second half; that is the bottom line," Elliott said. "Playing seven players, eventually against that type of defense we just wear down."


Elliott said she will stay in Hartford, Conn., a couple days to watch the tournament and pick up some tips for the upcoming season. UC will get much needed rest this offseason, after dressing seven healthy players for the majority of the year.


Veterans Shareese Ulis and Bellman participated in their last contest as Bearcats.


"Obviously I am happy for my two seniors Ulis and Bellman who were able to play in this game," Elliott said. "They both had nagging injuries all year long." 

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